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Save Our A&E campaign: 'two towns, one fight'

A&E's campaigners in Calderdale and Huddersfield deride consultation as 'meaningless'

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Save Our AE's campaigners warn public of hospital cuts consultation spin

Save our A&E's campaigners in Calderdale and Huddersfield will be monitoring and leafletting the hospital cuts consultation drop ins and public meetings, that start on 16 March and continue until 1 June.

Members of the public are welcome to help out, as they did in the pre-consultation engagement drop ins two years ago.

Those 2014 engagement events were poorly advertised, attended by hardly anyone and about as clear as mud in terms of the information they provided.

People described the drop ins as like "wrestling with fog", with information about "vague, abstract and unspecific intentions" and staff who were "very good at sidestepping the issues".

Expectations are no higher about the consultation, which Save our A&Es campaigners see as unfit for purpose.

Under the slogan "Two towns, one fight", they warn that if the cuts go ahead, neither town will be safe. Each will have only half a hospital each and 1 A&E between both. A big Californian study last year that found inpatient death rates rose in hospitals with an A&E, when a nearby hospital's A&E closed.

Campaigners have pointed out that an independent clinical review of the hospital cuts and community care proposals was unable to say whether the new schemes will provide the required standard of care.

They have also highlighted a whole slew of spin and misinformation in the pre- consultation business case and draft consultation documents.

Perhaps worst of all, the consultation is only on one option for cuts and changes and the purpose of the consultation questionnaire is unclear. Is it to ask the public if we agree with the proposals? Or is it asking us how they would affect us?

Campaigners have called for the Councils to stop the Consultation, as it is meaningless and unfit for purpose.

They point to the example of Hartlepool Council that has just successfully issued an injunction to stop the axe falling on Hartlepool Hospital fertility services. The court granted the injunction because there had been no meaningful consultation.

Campaigners are taking advice from Leigh Day about whether there are grounds for a legal challenge to the consultation and to the hospital cuts proposals.

Leigh Day has carried out many successful challenges to hospital cuts and NHS commissioning irregularities. Through a judicial review, they saved Lewisham Hospital A&E, maternity and paediatric services from closure.

Dr Polly McGrail from Colne Valley said, "It seemed clear to me from Ollerton's Examiner interview that he isn't considering anything but the Clinical Commissioning Group plan and I assume the drop-in meetings are intended to persuade, not to 'consult' in any meaningful way. It also clear that the said plan is based on hope and optimism, not on any careful working out of details or research. The casual lack of precise information is slipshod, insulting, intolerable, unprofessional and beggars belief."


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